AUSTIN, Texas -- So you've got a few days in Austin with a jones for golf -- but not a ton of cash? That's okay. Austin's a fine golf city, not just for Ben Crenshaw and Jordan Spieth-types, but for Regular Joes, too.
I've scanned the web for spring tee times over the last weekend in March for the Austin area, and it's pretty easy to fill up your weekend with golf at some very good courses for less than two C-notes.
Now, here's the one bummer: $200 won't get you on Austin's top-100 facility, four-course Barton Creek, which requires a stay-and-play at the Omni Barton Creek that is usually more than $200 per night. But just about everything else (public) is well within range, especially if you're OK with playing in the afternoon -- all the more reason to stay out late on 6th Street.
Start off at River Place Country Club. This semi-private course has similar Hill Country scenery and terrain as Barton Creek -- without the three-figure price tag. Green fees here are currently about $60 (this is a members club that has windows of public times). It's also one of Austin's top-rated golf courses by GolfAdvisor with a better than 4.5/5-star rating. Afterward, grab some barbecue at nearby Rudy's or County Line BBQ in Highway 2222.
Next, another top daily-fee course on the west side of town is Falconhead Golf Club. While it's a rare public course in a neighborhood chock full of exclusive privates, it's still a little pricy in the morning at about $89. Wait until after 1 p.m. and you can play for closer to $50-$60. Falconhead has the best blend of Hill Country scenery and tour-worthy challenge and conditions in Austin for the money.
That leaves us with about $80. Keep an eye out for afternoon tee times at Wolfdancer Golf Club at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort just east of town. While morning times are $140-$160, afternoon times after 3 p.m. are normally closer to $69-$79 (you'll still get in 18 and the setting sun is gorgeous). Its 300-plus acres of expansive, rolling land is by far the best piece of property for golf in the Austin area.
If you'd rather play earlier in the day, prime tee times can be found at Avery Ranch Golf Club -- designed by Nicklaus Design protege Andy Raugust -- for $69-$79. Avery Ranch blends some great scenery within a relatively new residential development. Or, nearby in the northern 'burbs, The Golf Club Star Ranch is of similar ilk and price.
Got $10 left? Look no further than an afternoon walk with a wedge and putter around Austin's legendary par-3 course, Butler Park Pitch 'n Putt. An $8 green fee leaves you enough cash to grab a 16-ounce beverage at a gas station on Barton Springs Road and BYOB to this legendary (albeit a bit worn) golf spot on the south side of Town Lake.